I got my answer as to why my impressions and visitors are 50% lower in GWT while average ranking is up. It was puzzling to say the least but it's clear now, places finally was applied to my corner of the web.
It's a site about a specific type of product. It's old and well linked. It's often copied but never duplicated. It took places to take it out.
What bothers me is that a search for this product, which is sold in various stores everywhere, does not require you enter a location in your search terms to return Google places results first.
I now get equal traffic from Bing despite 66% more people looking for this product on Google, that doesn't look good on Google if you ask me.
On the bright side, since I now get an equal amount of traffic from Bing, I can focus on optimizing for Bing instead and get used to using Bing as my primary search engine... until they pull a places on all product types too.
I AM somewhat peeved as I write this but for my keyword Google just became a glorified version of the yellow pages instead of a source of interested visitors... and that stinks.
Sgt, so let's sat that you sell a certain shovel. You are saying that Google lists 7 stores that sell it locally?
Sadly this is to be expected as Google search has peaked, any gains will mostly be at our expense. As I I didn't have enough problems, soon enough my niche will too be overridden by 'local' which is actually ads, ads, ads...on top of the 3 top ads. Ads that don't have to compete with other ads and that are promoting an inferior product (Places and soon enough their +1.)